July/August/September 2020

An alternative approach to becoming better business leaders

The Alternative Board (TAB) has been around for over 30 years and been in the UK for over 10 of those years. Over that time, they have been offering a fresh, alternative approach to running businesses and creating better business leaders. This has been mainly down to their emphasis on support between members in the form of monthly board meetings and 1-to-1 sessions. GM Business Connect caught up with Mark Kane, an experienced senior manager, now offering his services to South Manchester businesses after launching The Alternative Board covering the South Manchester area earlier this year.

Prior to launching TAB, Mark worked in financial services for almost 20 years, principally as a senior manager in an investment management company, managing an ISA plan that was worth several billion pounds, and responsible for a specialised helpdesk which administered investments for clients. He ran numerous operational teams through periods of great change, achieved an Executive MBA through Keele University and served on the board of trustees of the company pension scheme. We asked Mark to explain in more detail the role of TAB and what it can bring to businesses during an unprecedented time of economic turmoil:

“Essentially, we provide local businesses with board of director-style support, advice and mentoring not normally available to independent SMEs and entrepreneurs. Recognising that peer support can make a significant difference in ensuring that businesses not only survive this period but go on to thrive, we bring business owners and leaders of independently owned companies from non-competing sectors together in a group setting, similar to a board of directors, where they help each other to identify opportunities and solve challenges they each face in their own companies.

“From talking to many other business owners, I know there are many leaders out there who are feeling isolated, anxious, and alone. I want to contribute and be a real help to those who need a hand not only with their challenges, but also with the opportunities that will present themselves over time.

“The past 6 months or so has been an exceptionally difficult time for most but I have full faith in the support offered via TAB which has helped business owners through previous recessions. I am also hugely positive about the prospects for businesses in South Manchester and the North West. Businesses in the area will grow, develop and come out of this period much stronger.”

“The Alternative Board is growing from strength to strength in the North West, and with my new role covering Manchester South along with the hugely experienced and established team of Paul Winterbottom for Manchester West, Ian Gregory for Mid Cheshire, Terry Hayward for Stockport, Macclesfield & Peak District and David Roberts for North Wales, we form part of a wider UK team currently helping over 400 business owners and leaders.

“TAB works with independently owned businesses, who do not typically have a board of directors to provide advice, expertise, and accountability to company leadership. What we offer is an ‘alternative’ board of between 5 to 8 business owners from non-competing sectors who meet monthly. At the meeting they each bring a topic relating to their business; perhaps ideas have dried up, or they need advice on what to focus on. We then spend time on each topic drawing on the huge amount of experience and knowledge around the table.”

How has the current crisis impacted TAB?
“Our success is measured in the ability to get positive-minded business owners around a boardroom table talking through shared issues and finding solutions and support on a regular basis. This can be achieved virtually just as easily as face to face. Times like these are
exceptional, and we’re finding by offering a platform like TAB can be crucial in the intellectual wellbeing of business leaders, offering not just guidance, mentorship and problem solving, but an opportunity for personal growth for everyone involved.”

“I’m keen to work with South Manchester businesses who are eager to learn, who acknowledge that they do not have all the answers, who are open minded and also open to change. Board membership is not guaranteed, as any new board member must be willing to help others and be open to share their experiences and challenges. This concept will be new to most business owners, so I’m organising a series of ‘Taster’ sessions so you can experience TAB at first hand.”

To find out more contact Mark at:


Phone: 0161 660 9746  Mobile: 0781 257 4622 or visit: